MANILA –Going 89, but former President Fidel V. Ramos, though he has a pacemaker implanted in his heart showed his vigor and strength when he did 20 pushups nonstop then shifted to 21 sit-ups before a crowd attending a photo exhibit of veteran photo-journalist, Sonny Q. Camarillo to commemorate the 31st People Power anniversary at the UP Town Center in Diliman, Quezon City Friday.
FVR, as Ramos is fondly called, made his patented thump’s up sign, saying “kaya natin ito!” (we can do it!), after completing the brief but backbreaking exercise, together with 13-year old Oliver Cortez, Camarillo’s grandson, who said he was exhausted. But FVR stood up and smiled as the crowd clapped their hands.
As a former Army Special Forces officer, Ramos during his younger days in the military was fond of pushups, sit ups aside from jogging as his daily routine exercise to keep him healthy.
Then he told the crowd, including the choir composed of high school students from the University of the Philippines (UP) to follow him in his famous EDSA jump, not once but twice to their delight.
Others with pacemakers would not do even one pushup, but FVR still that strength to do pushups as a matter of habit through the years as a young military officer to date with his motto: “Kaya natin ito!).
FVR will be 89 this coming March 18.
It may be recalled that FVR during the historic four-day historic EDSA People Power revolution 31 years ago, jump in the air at Camp Crame, Quezon City upon learning that then President Ferdinand E. Marcos fled Malacañang Palace on February 25, 1986.
The rebel troops led by Ramos, then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, and former Army Col. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, had made Camp Crame, the headquarters of the Philippine Constabulary (PC), as their as main quarters to make their last stand in case they would be attacked by government forces loyal to Marcos.
In his extemporaneous speech during the photo exhibit, Ramos recalled that critical four-day EDSA People revolution on Feb. 22-25, 1986, Gen. Fabian Ver, then the chief of staff of the Armed Forces (AFP), as clearance from Marcos to attack the rebel forces holed up at Camp Crame where over two million people gathered along the stretch of Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue (EDSA) to block the entry of loyal government troopers going to Camp Crame.
But the huge crowd, many of them praying the Rosary refused to budge an inch when soldiers aboard tanks and armored vehicles tried to barrel their way.
The throngs of civilians barricading EDSA gave the soldiers food to eat and water to drink during the stand-off.
The people many of them priests, nuns and other religious people continued praying, and before they knew it, their prayers to God, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the soldiers sided with the civilians.
Countless cried during that historic and touching moments at EDSA that crumbled the 20-year authoritarian Marcos regime, that restored freedom and democracy in the country.
The avalanche of people that went to EDSA was triggered when Jaime Cardinal Sin, the charismatic archbishop of Manila to go to Camp Crame to form a human shield to protect the Enrile-Ramos-Honasan forces from attack by government troops.
There were three chilling episodes during that crucial moment at EDSA that had that happened blood would flow and an armed revolt would have taken place.
One was the defection of a flight of Philippine Air Force (PAF) helicopter gunships that instead of firing air-to-ground rockets at the rebel soldier, the pilots and the gunners defected to the rebel side.
Another was when Marine Col. Braulio Balbas, commander of the 105 mm howitzer unit based in Camp Aguinaldo just opposite Camp Crame, refused to fire the big guns even after order, because he could not allow his conscience that tens thousands of civilians would be killed even if onbly one artillery would be fired.
The defection of the First Scout Ranger of the Philippine Army on Feb. 25, 1986 broke the camel’s back when the whole unit defected to the Enrile-Ramos camp.
By all intend and purposes, the unprecedented EDSA revolution was a miracle with God’s blessing throughout the four-day episode that toppled an authoritarian regime through the power of the people that reverberated across the globe praising the courage of the Filipinos!
“To God be the Glory!